Vitamin D allows your body to absorb more calcium and is vital to healthy bone formation. It’s known as the “sunshine vitamin”, but is actually a hormone. Your body produces it naturally when skin is exposed to the UVB rays generated by the sun.
Since Australia is arguably the sunniest place on the planet, our Costhetics researchers began to wonder:
Why do 1 in 4 Australian adults
have a vitamin D deficiency?
(Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics)
In this article, the Costhetics team looks at vitamin D and how you can keep your levels up without risking skin damage and cancer from sun exposure.
8 Reasons You May Be Vitamin D Deficient
You are likely to develop a vitamin D deficiency for one of these reasons:
- Age – At 70, the average person has approximately 30% of the capacity to generate vitamin D from sunlight than a 20-year old has.
- Weight – People with a BMI of over 30 (body mass index) often have low levels of vitamin D because fat cells leech this essential compound from the blood, affecting absorption by the body.
- Skin Colour – Dark skin tone can interfere with the absorption of the sun’s UVB rays, putting people with darker skin at greater risk.
- Altitude and Latitude – The further you move away from the Equator and the closer you get to sea level, the greater your risk for vitamin D deficiency.
- Pollution/Clouds – Airborne pollutants can prevent UVB rays from reaching you.
- Season – Vitamin D deficiency spikes in the wintertime.
- Underlying Medical Conditions – Kidney problems, celiac disease, and other health issues can affect your body’s ability to absorb vitamin D from food.
- Diet – If you are vegan or suffer from milk allergies, you may not be getting enough vitamin D. The sunshine vitamin occurs naturally in fish, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products.
Vitamin D deficiency spikes in the wintertime in southern Australia when as many as 35% of men and nearly 60% of women are affected. This is likely due to limited sun exposure during a time when days are shorter and darker than in the north.
How to Get Enough Vitamin D?
Given the risk for skin damage and skin cancer presented by UVA and UVB rays, an RDA of basking in the sun may not be the best prescription for getting adequate vitamin D. Fortunately there are other options:
- OTC Pills and Liquids – Daily supplementation can improve vitamin D deficiency, but the progress is slow. It takes about a year for the body to build up its stores. Given the low risk of over-the-counter supplements, this is a good solution for a mild deficiency or to prevent one.
- Injectables – Vitamin D injections are an effective and convenient treatment for people who do not wish to be wedded to a daily pill-taking schedule. A single injection maintains adequate vitamin D levels for up to six months.
- High-Dose Nutritional Supplementation – A high-dose approach to a vitamin D deficiency will help the condition improve quickly. There are risks and side effects, however, so your doctor will need to determine if this is the best treatment for you.
If you think that you may be suffering from a vitamin D deficiency, Costhetics urges you to contact your doctor for a professional diagnosis and an effective treatment plan.